A 21-year-old Muslim man was arrested Wednesday in Uttar Pradesh, India, after allegedly trying to convert a Hindu woman to Islam, which is illegal under a new controversial law.
Tikaram Rathone filed a police report alleging 21-year-old Owais Ahmed tried to coerce his married 20-year-old Hindu daughter to convert to Islam in order to marry him, according to CNN. Rathone alleged Ahmed befriended his daughter while at school and wanted to “coerce, coax and allure” her into converting faiths, CNN reported.
Bareilly Police confirmed the arrest in a Dec. 2 Facebook post, writing, “in the prohibition of religion conversion against Love Jihad” the individual was arrested.
थाना देवरनियां #bareillypolice द्वारा लव जिहाद के मु0अ0सं0 361/20 धारा 504/506 भादवि व 3/5 उ0प्र0 विधि विरूद्ध धर्म संपरिवर्तन प्रतिषेध अधि0 में वांछित अभियुक्त को किया गिरफ्तार । #UPPolice @Uppolice
“This is the first arrest under the new anti-conversion law in the state, ” Sansar Singh, superintendent of police in Bareilly, said, according to Indian news outlet The Print.
Ahmed denied any wrongdoing in a statement to The Print. (RELATED: Tiger Allegedly Responsible For 8 Deaths Trapped In India)
“I have been arrested under the love jihad law. I have no link with the woman, she got married a year back. I am innocent.”
Uttar Pradesh passed a new anti-conversion law Saturday which makes “forced” or “fraudulent” religious conversions a non-bailable offense that carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years, according to CNN.
The law, aimed at curbing interfaith marriages, targets the practice dubbed “love jihad,” which is a term Hindu groups use to accuse Muslim men of attempting to convert women to their faith, CNN reports. The law places the burden of proof of innocence onto the accused rather than forcing the plaintiff to prove the veracity of their claim, according to CBS News.
The law has been called Islamophobic and regressive by some critics, who warned it could cause serious issues for Muslims in the Hindu majority nation, according to the report.
Yogi Adityanath, who heads Uttar Pradesh and is a member of the Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, was one of the biggest supporters of the legislation, according to The New York Times (NYT). Adityanath has been accused of spurring anti-Muslim sentiment, once calling Muslims “a crop of two-legged animals that has to be stopped,” according to the NYT.